Vision, careful planning and steady work are changing the face of the Yadkin Valley
Recent events in around the Yadkin Valley are testimonials to the region's ability to set a goal and work incrementally toward achieving it. We haven't exactly become a destination arts venue yet, but we are getting closer, moving step by step. As time goes on it becomes clearer that we should take those steps together. The most recent step for the Yadkinville arm of this arts movement is the approval of a $95,000 Golden LEAF Foundation grant to the the Yadkin County Cultural Arts Center. That puts the group half way to its $2.5 million goal for a center that will allow performing artists and visual artists a place to show their talents. It will include a theater, outdoor courtyard, classrooms and meeting rooms. The project impressed Golden LEAF because of its conjunction and proximity to the growing agritourism industry in the Yadkin Valley, highlighted by the rise of the North Carolina wine industry. "These recent grants represent our commitment to partnering with the communities and local leaders to create opportunities for North Carolina's long term prosperity," according to Valerie Lee, president of the Golden LEAF Foundation. Arriving at the halfway point in its goal puts the Yadkin Arts Council in a position of breaking ground on the new facility. The organization plans to do so in May. It has not been an easy road, but it started with a vision, design, plan of attack and steady work of partners like Yadkin County Schools, Yadkin Valley Craft Guild, Yadkinville, local businesses and other arts organizations. In Elkin a similar endeavor is going on to build the reputation of the craft guild, the Foothills Arts Council and the area in general into a place tourists of all kinds will want to come and enjoy, wine, arts and other attractions. Restoration of the Reeves Theater in downtown Elkin may also play a part in the development of arts and entertainment venues. Some might see the existence of several establishments in close proximity as competition. More likely it will create the rightful image of the area as a strong arts center tucked away in a beautiful part of the country filled with friendly people. To a lesser extent, the addition of Fourth Fridays event in downtown Elkin adds to that theme. Downtown Elkin Inc and Foothills Arts Council officials are working together to establish a regular event -- on the fourth Friday of every month -- at a familiar time and in a familiar place that would appeal to tourists. Coordinator Bill Colvard says the organizations hope to establish Elkin as a destination for travelers. The new spring season will kick off April 25 and will feature a band each fourth Friday of the month at least through October. It is another small step toward building a tourism based economy but it is another step. Who would have thought five years ago that the arts council would be as active as it is today or that the Craft Guild would be developing an apprentice program to teach artisans or that downtown Yadkinville would boast a cultural arts center. But it is happening.